In the previous blog I covered creating your CV and Cover Letter, and at this point invitations to interviews will follow. These can be quite daunting, so I want to go through the different interview formats while also providing some tips as to how to gain confidence before an interview.
Firstly, you will need to prepare. Do your research – research the company, and, if appropriate, the department you will be interviewing with. Have a look at their values, and what they stand for. Have they been on the news recently? What are they talking about on their social media channels? Is there anything in particular you should be aware of before interviewing; have they, for instance, made any official commitments, any acquisitions, or large-scale changes to the organisation? You should also research your interviewers. Look them up on LinkedIn and try to get an idea of who they are and what their career path has been.
There are three main interview formats – Competency, Technical and Motivational. Most interviews will be a blend of all three.
Competency interviews are focused in key competencies, and you may be provided with these beforehand. They are situational and example-based (‘Tell me about a time when..’). To answer competency-based questions, it is good to follow the STAR format:
Situation – What was the background?
Task – What was the task at hand?
Action – What action did you take as a result?
Result – What was the final result?
For instance, the interviewers may ask “Tell me about a time you worked as part of a team to complete a difficult task”. Through the STAR format, you could answer the question:
Situation – I was working on a large mandatory project with a tight deadline. As we neared the deadline, it became clear that we were in danger of not being able to complete the project in time.
Task – The task at hand was to ensure new processes had been created and adopted in time of the deadline, which was 2 weeks away. At this stage, we still had to finalise new processes and engage with key stakeholders to ensure their successful uptake.
Action – As a team, we began by dividing the workload between us, depending on our individual strengths and circumstances. For instance, as the company had adopted flexi hours, I volunteered to take on managing the stakeholders based abroad in different time-zones, to ensure we were engaging with them on their time and therefore getting swifter responses and more positive uptake.
Result – We managed to complete the task in time and new processes were in place and happily adopted by the organisation prior to the regulatory deadline.
It is important to try to understand the competency they are asking about. In the above example, it is likely to relate to working as part of a team, as well as being able to work under pressure. By having read and understood the job description, you may get an idea of the competencies they are likely to focus on in an interview.
Technical interviews are focused on your technical abilities – the nitty gritty, what you have done and how. For instance, you may be asked about when you would use a particular software, or how you would go about writing a particular piece of code. Your answers to these should also be based on specific examples.
Motivational questions are about you. What is your motivation for doing this role, at this particular company? What is your Career Roadmap and where do you want to take your career? This is a chance for the organisation to get to know you.
Most interviews will have a mix of competency-based, technical and motivational questions.
Gaining confidence for an interview
The above can all seem like quite a lot of information to take on board and make interviews seem like something to worry about. They are not – interviews are a chance for both you and the organisation to get to know each other, each other’s strengths and an opportunity for you to realise where you can add value.
As long as you go into the interview knowing you have done your preparation, you have done all you can.
Make sure you research the role and organisation. The onus is on you to seek information.
Also make sure you know the CV you applied with. What were the skills/experience you highlighted in your CV and Cover Letter? Try to get an understanding of why they asked to interview you – they obviously saw something in your CV they wanted to get to know more about.
If possible, you can do an interview role-play with your partner, parent, or friend. There are a lot of resources available online with mock interview templates.
Finally, be yourself! This doesn’t mean to not act in a professional way, but this is a chance for you to show this organisation and the interviewers who you are and how you work, and what you can bring to them.
In the next instalment in the series I'll be looking at the main event itself - the interview. In the meantime, if you have any thoughts and want to get in touch, you can find me over here.
The information contained in this article does not constitute business advice and should not be acted on as such. This content is based on our understanding in May 2021. Head Resourcing are not liable for the information contained on any third-party websites linked to this article.